FPCA Highlanders play for State Title in honor of former Head Coach

FPCA Highlanders play for State Title in honor of former Head Coach (Image 1)

Well despite last weekend's 0 for 7 showing by our area teams in the states final four.  There is one team left standing.  tomorrow in Macon.  They take the court to play for a state championship.  physically they are ready.  Emotionally, they've been ready for this game since day one of the season.

Quiet gym down a quiet road outside Hinesville.  you drive up and have no idea how close a group of young men inside are to reaching the top of their sport.  The FPCA Highlanders are playing for a State Championship Saturday in Macon.  The focus is there, but so is the excitement.

“I just know we just need to play our game.  Play under control.  Just don't let the crowd get to us. We know it's gonna be packed”

It would be impossible to call this just another state championship game.  Hardly.  what makes it so special is the fact that these boys lost their head coach last year. Ernie Walthour was killed during a robbery.

A couple of months later, Walthour's childhood friend Shane Smith was offered the job and he took it….a roundabout way of ending up exactly where ernie walthour hoped it would.

“He and I had discussed previously,  me coaching with him as an assistant this year.”

Now he's in charge and leading these kids to a place few thought they'd be mid-March.  “I always knew from day one we'd have a decent season.  I didn't know we'd be this good.  I knew we'd have a decent season”  Decent has become remarkable with their former head coach's memory weighing heavily on them.  “We just carrying him with us.  Everywhere we go, he's always with us.”

“Before every game we talk about it.  At practice sometimes.  Trying to do it for him.”

“He's pretty much a part of our every day conversation.”

“it affected us sometimes.  We can't let it get to us too much.  We just kept going.”

Just as Ernie Walthour would have wanted.

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